Board of Education meets to discuss pay supplement, disciplinary protocols

Published 9:43 am Monday, April 25, 2022

The Decatur County Board of Education met for their regular meeting Thursday evening, starting with a work session at 5:00, with the regular meeting beginning at 6:00. Among the items on the evening’s agenda were the approval of a one-time salary supplement, as well as the revision of school disciplinary policies.

Superintendent Tim Cochran sat down with the Post-Searchlight to discuss the issues. “Every teacher is receiving a $2,000 one-time supplement, effective May,” Cochran said, “and that was from the governor’s budget, this year’s fiscal budget.”

In addition to this one-time pay supplement, each certified teacher will receive a $2,000 raise for the next fiscal year. This is part of Governor Kemp’s campaign promise to raise teacher’s salary by $5,000, following up on a previous $3,000 raise.

However, the state will only be providing these pay supplements and raises to certified teachers, not to all positions. The Decatur school system will therefore provide a 5.5% raise for all classified staff. “The state funds teachers, but they don’t fund everybody, so when they added the $2,000 to the salary schedule, our classified people wouldn’t get anything on that, so we’re adding a 5.5% raise for all our classified,” Cochran explained. There will likewise be a match for the $2,000 supplement. “The people that the state don’t pay $2,000 to, we’ll do that locally, to ensure every one of our employees gets a $2,000 bump.”

In addition to issues of payment, the Board discussed adjustments to school discipline policies. “We are revamping our discipline policies next year to make it more clear, less open for interpretation, and to make sure we’re supporting our teachers and holding our kids accountable,” Cochran said.

According to Cochran, there has been an increase in discipline in schools across the state since the pandemic. The proposed changes to discipline policy, according to him, would not necessarily change, but clarify the language of school discipline policies.

Principals will still have discretionary authority with discipline. Major discipline will also not change. Rather, it escalates consequences for constant minor disciplinary problems, such as frequent office referrals. “It cleans up the language of what a minor infraction is, and how minor infractions need to be handled, and once they become cumulative, it escalates the rigor.”

In closing, Cochran said, “We’re gonna make sure that our discipline policy supports teachers, supports the learning environment, and holds kids accountable.” As for the raises, he said, “I’m very appreciative of the governor and all he has done for public education to support our teachers, very, very appreciative. Our teachers are very deserving, and they work very hard for what they get, they do a phenomenal job every day for us.”